The Readers' Choice Awards return

If the leaves are turning and the baseball playoffs are starting, that means the folks around the Macworld offices are starting to think about which products deserve our annual Editors’ Choice Awards. And for the past several years, it’s also meant that our readers should be doing the same thing.

Starting in 2004, we introduced our Readers’ Choice Awards. Awarded alongside the Eddys, the reader awards give you the chance to pick your favorite hardware and software of the year.

More often than not, those favorites arrive courtesy of Cupertino. In 2004, the iMac G5 took home the hardware prize while Final Cut Pro HD 4.5 won the software award. In 2005, hardware and software honors went to the Mac mini and Mac OS X 10.4, respectively. Last year, Parallels Desktop for Mac broke Apple’s winning streak on the software side, while the 24-inch iMac Core 2 Duo kept the hardware prize in Apple’s grasp.

So our readers like Apple’s products—that’s not really a surprise. But based on feedback we’ve gotten, our readers would like the chance to recognize other great Mac offerings as well.

After last year’s awards, we asked for your suggestions on ways to improve the Readers’ Choice Awards. We received a lot of constructive feedback. But perhaps the two most common suggestions could be summarized thusly:

  1. You want the opportunity to hand out more honors to more deserving products.
  2. You’re particularly interested in recognizing third-party developers, especially those who produce low-cost software, shareware, and freeware.

Well, you’ve got it. For 2007, we’re doubling the number of reader awards to four. And we’re introducing some new categories which, ideally, will give more developers a shot at earning some accolades.

Apple Product of the Year: Obviously, the biggest maker of Mac products gets an award all to itself. Any and all products released by a certain Cupertino-based company in the past year—hardware or software, Mac, iPod or iPhone—are eligible for this honor.

Third-Party Hardware of the Year: Printers, scanners, cameras, digital devices, and any other hardware vie for this award.

Third-Party Software of the Year: Any application across the wide array of software categories—audio, video, digital imaging, utilities, games, and more—can be nominated here.

Mac Gem of the Year: As our Mac Gems weblog illustrates every week, great software doesn’t necessarily have to come from giant companies; sometimes, the best apps out there appear with little fanfare. We’d like to help those programs get a little more recognition, so let us hear about your favorite under-$50 apps.

We’re looking for nominees in all four categories. Any product released after November 1, 2006 is eligible for consideration. So give us your picks in the forum thread linked to below. We’re accepting nominations over the next two weeks. You’ll get your chance to vote on the finalists in early November.

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